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Avoid claims of unfair discrimination when it's time to consider employee promotion!

by , 04 March 2013
Employee promotion is usually at the manager's discretion. But you'll come under fire for employee promotion if you're doing so simply to meet your company's affirmative action plan, and you could face a charge of unfair discrimination. That's why the Labour Court in Gauteng has ruled that the SA Police Service mustn't implement any employee promotions in line with its existing affirmative action plan until all lawsuits against the plan have been heard. Here's how to make sure your employee promotions are fair.

Ten years on from the passing of the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) Act, 'BEE is set to enter a new phase where black entrepreneurs will be assisted more rigorously to enter the mainstream economy,' the Department of Trade and Industry's Director General Lionel October is quoted as saying on the AllAfrica website.
But not if you implement affirmative action unfairly to do so.
For example, a ruling made on Thursday is set to halt the South African Police Service's current employee promotion plan, as the Solidarity union says it's based on an 'invalid' affirmative action plan, says Fin24
So you can't just implement affirmative action as a way to meet your broad-based black economic empowerment responsibilities.
It's a sure way to land in trouble, because if affirmative action is implemented in a way that constitutes unfair discrimination in the workplace, it is unconstitutional.
That's why Solidarity says the SAPS employee promotion plan needs a rethink, as 'Whites who met the requirements for [employee] promotions [at SAPS] had not been promoted since the plan was implemented, as the positions had already been filled.' 
Avoid cases of unfair discrimination by rethinking your affirmative action-based employee promotion plan!
And you need to be careful to avoid facing similar cases of discrimination
This means you can't just promote an employee into a position because he'll help you meet your affirmative action quotas.
This will likely result in claims of unfair discrimination from any employees you've overlooked.
Especially as the Department of Labour has increased the number of workplace inspections it's doing, to ensure that employment equity is implemented fairly and without any discrimination.
So if the Department of Labour conducts an employment equity (EE) inspection of your company, you have to have the appropriate records ready.
Here's how to prove your company deals with employment equity and unfair discrimination claims
That's why you need to file any written employee complaints to do with any employment equity matter like affirmative action or any unfair discrimination claim, along with a record of any actions taken in the matter in case of an inspection from the Department of Labour, says Rachel Paterson in the Labour Bulletin.
You should keep this file in your HR department, so it's easy to access if a Department of Labour inspector arrives on your doorstep for an EE inspection.
And of course, make sure you're considering all employees based on their skills – not just whether they're the right colour or gender – when time for employee promotions rolls around.
That way you'll be sure to avoid claims of unfair discrimination.

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